Mad Men, Season 5

Are Roger and Joan Destined For Each Other?
Talking television.
April 24 2012 10:18 PM

Mad Men, Season 5

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Are Roger and Joan destined for each other?

Mad Men (Season 5)
Jane promises Roger their divorce will be “expensive”

Photograph by Jordin Althaus/AMC.

I think you’re right, John, that Don and Megan’s marriage isn’t as doomed as she fears. Don disregards some of Megan’s desires, but not because he doesn’t care what she thinks. In fact, we’ve seen him acquiesce to her wishes often this season—wearing the plaid sport coat she prefers to dinner in Cos Cob, going to the beach in Fire Island, squirming through her musical number. When he’s aware of her wants, he often accommodates them. His problem is that he hasn’t recognized workplace ambition as one of her desires. Now that he does, and now that he’s spent a harrowing night imagining life without her, perhaps he’ll change his ways.

Julia Turner Julia Turner

Julia Turner is the editor in chief of Slate and a regular on Slate's Culture Gabfest podcast

One intriguing note here: When Don was romancing Faye last season, we all wondered if he was ready for a relationship with a woman who knew about his past, about Dick Whitman. It’s become clear this season that Megan is in on his big secret, but she often seems not to grok its significance. She’s dismissive of its import in the season premiere, and she’s cutting about his mother in this episode. Patrick, you’re right that Don seemed to offhandedly reference his rural past at the dinner party last week, but I’m not sure the ghost of Dick Whitman has been permanently laid to rest.

I too have wondered about the similarities between Peggy and Ginsberg; perhaps they will “find solace” in one another. But if we’re speculating about possible future dalliances, we’d be remiss not to mention Roger and Joan. They’re both newly single and (conveniently!) just had a baby together. Any chance these two will make it official? I hope not, actually. Don’s complex relationship with Megan shows that marriage doesn’t have to be a narrative dead end on a show this sophisticated, but I think Roger and Joan both prize their new independence, and might like to keep it that way.

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I doubt Roger will enjoy his newly empty pockets, however. Jane promises their divorce will be “expensive,” which means Roger will no longer have the luxury of spending his way out of dilemmas at work. Perhaps that means he’ll start hustling for new business. I’m looking forward to that—and to Pete’s reaction when Roger lands his first big fish.

I’ll leave you gents with two questions. First, why did Roger envision the 1919 World Series? That was the year of the infamous Black Sox cheating scandal. Reader JerseyRudy offers an interesting theory, suggesting the watching the series—prior to the revelations of fraud—would have been a last moment of childhood innocence:

I just came across an article from the New York Times dated Oct. 2, 1919 about how the simulation of the World Series game was shown on a huge screen in Times Square before a huge crowd. It was a revolutionary concept at the time; there was a steel magnet which controlled a hollow steel ball on a simulated board, which simulated every movement of the ball for the fans a few seconds after it happened.

It is not a stretch to imagine a young Roger Sterling being taken there by his Dad. And it would likely have made an indelible impression on him. In his mind, the 1919 World Series was likely his last pure childhood memory of loving baseball. Replaying the experience of listening to that game was simply a pure experience of pleasure for him during his LSD trip (and no Jane, he was NOT laughing at you!)

Second, what was the significance of the ad that Bert left for Don marked “DO OVER” in red pen? It was a bra ad—is that simply meant to be suggestive of Don’s “love leave”? Or is there actually something cooking with the Playtex account?

Have you seen my sunglasses?

Julia